Pre-Debate Thoughts

Trump is the front runner. That means there’s a big old target on him tonight as the Republican candidates face off at the university of Houston for tonight’s debate.

It’s Ted Cruz’s home state. While he leads in the polls in Texas, he needs to punch up on Trump just so that he won’t get overshadowed by Rubio, as he has placed twice behind the Florida senator twice now.

If Rubio looks even halfway presidential tonight, it will go a long way toward him actually winning a state – which, as I’ve said on the podcast, he hasn’t done yet. Rubio can’t beat Trump in the Northeast, and most of the SEC states will also fall probably for the Donald. But so long as he doesn’t go total MarcoBot 9000 tonight, he may actually get a win – late deciding voters may favor Rubio in the suburbs of Minnesota, and Alaska’s caucus might go his way despite the Donald’s alliance with former Governor Sarah Palin.

Then there’s Kasich and Carson. Carson’s campaign is on financial fumes, and Super Tuesday will likely be the last we hear of the good doctor for a while. It’s puzzling, since if you take super-PAC money out of the mix, Carson raised more money than any other GOP contender. He also burned through it by trying to raise more money, using direct mailing, an expensive and outdated form of fundraising in today’s age of digital moneybombs. Carson has spent almost 54 million dollars and has 4 delegates to show for it.

Then there’s John Kasich. He’s been taking the high road – so long as that high road isn’t a toll road. He’s got maybe a shade over a million dollars left. That’s not enough to make a real show on Super Tuesday, but the Ohio governor is hoping – praying – that he can hold out until March 15. He can’t. Any way you slice the math, Kasich’s and Carson’s campaigns are dead on their feet – the message just hasn’t hit the central nervous system yet.

And then there’s Trump. There are 661 delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday. Right now Trump has 81, and needs 1,237 total to win the nomination. The math favors him. Most of the contests on March 1 are proportional. Even if Trump only pulls 30% across the board on Tuesday (a super conservative estimate) that’s 198 or so more delegates into Trump’s coffers. Still a long way to go for victory, but with each passing contest it makes it more and more difficult for someone like Cruz to win, or Rubio. Rubio has the better shot in the long run, of course, but while Cruz will win his home Lone Star State on Tuesday, the same assumption cannot be made about Rubio in Florida on March 15. Donald Trump is a name well known to Florida, especially in South Florida where Marco calls home. In fact, a lot of Sunshine Staters recognize the name Trump a lot more than they recognize the name Rubio.

So – let’s watch the debate.